Chapter 1

Ayra stood in front of the mirror, her fingers sliding through her hair before quickly twisting it up into a bun. She secured her usual look with worn out pins, and gently smoothed out her dress.

"Ayra!" the door opened, and her mother frowned from the doorway. "Quickly," she hissed. "they're already pulling up. Lady Eleanor needs your assistance with her hair."

"Oh!" Ayra looked down, ashamed. Her Lady had told her the previous day that she needed to be quick, but she had forgotten.

Without looking at her mother, she quickly stumbled to Lady Eleanor's room.

Her Lady sat with her back straight, her expression poise. Dark brown, curly locks framed her long face. She didn't show any acknowledgement of Ayra's presence.

Ayra stepped forward, pinning Lady Eleanor's hair with jewels and pearls which shone in the dimmed room like hidden treasure. After she finished, Lady Eleanor finally spoke.

"Ayra, you must change into something more presentable. Our guests aren't like our usual guests. They are the royal family of Galencia."

Ayra started in surprise. The Kingdom of Galencia was well known for their prosperity and wealth. The King and Queen had a fantastic reputation of being generous and caring to their people.

"You will most likely not be seeing them, Ayra, but you must look ready for such guests. Do your daily chores, but don't go into the parlour."

Nodding, Ayra kept her face expressionless until she returned to her bedroom. The two beds that belonged to her and her sister were neatly made, and sunlight seeped in from between two curtains. Closing the curtains, she quickly chose a faded blue dress to wear. The edges were slightly ripped, but it was all she had.

Through her efforts on changing into better clothes, her hair had tumbled down over he shoulders. Sighing, she picked up her rusted comb and ran it through her light brown hair. Why did she have to do all this? She started working when she was nine years old, but had lived in the Wershell House all her life. Never had she seen one of the guests that have come for the Wershell's company. Most of the other maids did, though. They would tell Ayra how they arrived in carriages with horses, and how they brought presents wrapped in silver. The men wore cloaks with gleaming, gold buttons, and the women wore form fitting gowns. Before, she was always excited for guests to come, and hoped that she might be chosen to serve them. But a year ago, she realized that the ones that served were the prettiest, or the calmest. They were the people which had the best appearance. Ayra wasn't one of them.

After her chores were all finished, there was a bit of time left before she needed to help out in the kitchen. Ayra quietly stepped out into the small garden behind the house. There was a big tree that sat in the middle, and flowers of a variety of colours surrounded it. Ayra carefully arranged her dress as she sat behind the tree, and she gently took the small book she had hidden in the folds of her dress. Her grey eyes casted a quick look around the garden before she opened the book.

Ayra flipped to a new page before glancing up at the sky. The bright afternoon sun had faded. Closing the book, she stood up and began to walk back into the house.

"Wait." Ayra froze, before taking a deep breath and turned.

A boy, who was around sixteen (her age), stood behind her. His light brown hair had strips of a light honey colour. His piercing, blue eyes studied her curiously. His clothing was made of rich silk, and shiny, golden buttons lined the front of his tunic.

Oh. Ayra realized. He was too young to be the King. This must be one of the guest's servants…

"What?" she asked, wincing when to herself when she sounded rude.

The boy raised his eyebrows, and chuckled.

Ayra's eyes flashed. "I'm sorry, but I need to be in the kitchens." She quickly walked to the door.

"Wait!" What now? Ayra turned, her face set.

The boy shifted nervously from foot to foot. "I'm sorry. I just - uh - you read?" he blurted out.

Ayra smiled softly. "Yes, I do."

When he didn't say more, she turned and headed to the kitchen.

"I saw the prince! He was so handsome!" That was the first thing she heard when she went in. Rolling her eyes, she helped stir the soup in the huge clay pot. Ayra turned to the cook.

"Shouldn't we serve the food now?" she asked, looking confused at the servants still cutting and chopping ingredients.

The cook chuckled. "No, they delayed it. Apparently, there is too much to talk about."

Ayra laughed. "Do you know why they're here? Why would the royal family come?"

"It's probably business," the cook said, taking some herbs and spices from jars. "I heard them talking about needing a servant, though."

"Ayra!" Ayra turned, and smiled to see her ten year old sister, Violet, looking up at her.

"Hey Violet," she said, brushing some of the shorter hair away from her sister's face.

"Let's play!" Violet grinned, pulling on her hand.

Ayra groaned inwardly, although she was slightly amused. "Violet, I have to work. Go to -"

"Ayra!" Why was everyone calling her today? Ayra turned to see one of the maids.

"Come with me, you are needed." The maid turned and briskly walked out of the kitchen and down the hall to stand in front of the double doors. Ayra recognized it immediately.

"Wait," she whispered. "this is the parlour! Our guests -"

The maid stopped her. "Just go." She pulled the heavy, wooden doors open and pushed her in.

There were no maids, but there was a row of servant boys. All of them were fidgeting with their hands and shifting anxiously. Ayra could see why. The royal family sat on the plush seats in front of them. The King and Queen sat in the middle, not one of their grey hairs out of place. The presence and confidence could be felt from anywhere in the room. Next to the Queen sat a young girl, who had a curious expression on her face. Ayra smiled slightly. The princess seemed not much younger than Ayra herself. There was a boy next to the King. He had shiny, light brown hair and blue eyes that seemed to be looking right at her…

Ayra sucked in a breath, her face reddening. It was the boy she encountered with in the garden. How dumb she was! She offended the prince from the wealthiest royal family ever. She could be dead in a heartbeat.

"Ayra, please stand with the boys," a voice spoke up. Everyone turned to look at Ayra. With her head down, she shuffled over to stand with the servants. She peeked up to see Lady Eleanor looking at her reassuringly. She managed a weak smile back. Her heart pounded, and she didn't dare to look at the prince.

"Son," the King started. "who are you - " Ayra looked at him from under her eyelashes.

The prince smirked, and had an amused smile on his face when he turned towards her. "There is no question, father," he said slowly. "I want her."

Thanks for reading! ;) Please review and give me feedback! The future chapters won't be as long as this first one. SORRY! I'm on a break right now, so that's why! ;) Follow me on twitter! (You don't have to, just a suggestion.)